Cannabidiol (CBD) is a non-intoxicating cannabinoid found in the cannabis and hemp plant. Originally discovered in 1940, this compound has recently made huge headlines for its wide array of potential health benefits.
There's substantial evidence that it may be an effective pain killer, an anti-inflammatory, anxiolytic, and a sedative agent. Hard to imagine how one compound can have all these properties, right?
Due to these wide-ranging health benefits, CBD has become very popular among the young and the old alike.
At a time when conventional medicines are getting out of the reach of ordinary people, can CBD be the panacea for sickness and disease?
What is seasonal affective disorder?
It's normal to experience short periods of sadness or when you're not your usual self. However, if your notice that your mood often changes (for the worse) with the seasons, you may be having a condition known as seasonal affective disorder (SAD).
In fact, in the West, this condition is fittingly named "winter depression" because its symptoms are usually more intense during the winter.
In reality, SAD is a subtype of bipolar disorder and major depressive disorder. People with a major depressive disorder usually exhibit a general lack of interest accompanied by prolonged sadness.
Those with bipolar disorder often display depressive episodes characterized by alternating periods of abnormally high energy and complete lack of activity.
So, persons with SAD fall in between – they present symptoms of both conditions during certain times of the year.
This condition affects 0.5 to 3% of people in the general population. Further, 25% of individuals with bipolar disorder and 10 to 20% with a major depressive disorder are likely to be affected by SAD.
In some cases, it appears in a mild form called subsyndromal affective disorder.
What is the cause of seasonal affective disorder?
The etiology of the seasonal affective disorder remains a mystery.
Still, several theories have been put forth in an attempt to explain its etiology. One of these links SAD to limited exposure to sunlight during shorter winter and autumn days.
This supposedly stops the hypothalamus from working properly and affects the production of vital hormones that regulate the circadian rhythm, i.e., serotonin and melatonin.
In normal people, the circadian rhythms usually match their sleep-wake cycle to their night-day cycle. However, this match-up does not happen effectively in affected persons, especially during the winter when the days are shorter.
This results in behavior, mood, and sleep changes. Likewise, those who experience SAD during summer cannot also adjust to longer daylight hours.
The circadian rhythm's inability to readjust to shorter days is generally attributed to genetic factors. However, there's no clear inheritance pattern of seasonal affective disorder in families.
Studies show that the risk of developing SAD is much higher in first-degree relatives, with roughly 15% of people with SAD noted to have first-degree relatives who have the condition.
Other studies have identified a clear link between developing seasonal affective disorder and having relatives with psychological or mood disorders like schizophrenia or major depressive disorder.
They show that 25 to 67% of individuals with SAD have relatives with these disorders. This comes down to the fact that they share genetic risk factors. However, SAD is a common disorder that may occur in family members purely by chance.
Seasonal affective disorder symptoms
When should you see a doctor? Seek medical attention when the following symptoms become apparent to the extent of significantly impacting your daily routines:
- Feeling sleepy and lethargic during the day
- Loss of interest in everyday activities, especially those you used to love
- Persistent poor mood
- Feelings of worthlessness, despair, and guilt
- Sleeping longer than normal
- Finding it difficult to wake up
- Weight gain
- Craving for carbs
Your GP should be able to confirm the presence of SAD by conducting assessments on your mental health. These usually involve questions about your lifestyle, eating habits, mood, and sleeping patterns.
Summer seasonal affective disorder symptoms
For many people, summer is a time for fun – family vacations, hiking, going to the beach, and so on. However, for those with summer depression, summer mostly means being miserable.
Research shows that 10% of people with SAD have it in reverse because their depressive symptoms are triggered by the onset of summer. So instead of finding bliss, the long, hot, bright days change them into grump buckets.
So, how do you tell exactly if your SAD is triggered by summer? Here are well-known triggers and symptoms.
Well, for starters, you may notice that you get more agitated and too jittery to sleep, eat or follow your regular routines. This mostly happens at the onset of summer.
Unrealistic expectation-reality gap
Not everything often goes our way, and it's normal to feel disappointed when this happens.
However, suppose a seemingly petty disconnect between your expectations and reality (like finding your vacation hotel room doesn't have a balcony) throws you into a manic mood and significant stress. In that case, you may be priming for summer SAD.
In summer, life is undoubtedly more animated—the sun is brighter, the kids shriek louder—even colors look alive! This racket can drive you to the edge, especially if you need some quiet time.
If you find that the high-paced summer life leaves you feeling anxious and unsettled, you may need to implement coping strategies to stop yourself from sliding into summer SAD.
Longer daylight hours may mean getting up early and staying up until late. If you're getting little sleep, your body produces the stress hormone cortisol as a sign of stress.
Over time, this can lead to depression and make you more emotionally sensitive.
Admittedly, me-time may be your only saving grace on crazy-busy days. However, summer can really do a number on it as commitments pile and schedules run riot on you.
While this is not necessarily a symptom of summer SAD, it is a significant trigger that you shouldn't ignore.
Body image blues
Admit it, we all have that body part we feel the creator would have done a better job on. And so, we tend to hide it from view. But as the temperatures soar, it's only logical to shed a few layers of clothing.
This can leave you feeling terribly self-conscious and embarrassed. But if it prevents you from taking part in the pool parties and beach games, you could be developing summer seasonal affective disorder.
Summer is often synonymous with vacations, family get-togethers, and lots of activities, which, honestly, can be quite draining financially. If you're a working parent, you may have to fork out money for summer camps to keep the kids busy while you beat work deadlines.
Such expenses can compound summer depression, especially if you're cash strapped.
What is the most effective treatment for seasonal affective disorder?
Treatment plans for seasonal affective disorder range from lifestyle changes to therapies and medications. So, your GP will mostly recommend the following, depending on your condition's severity.
Studies have shown that regular physical activity may help mitigate symptoms linked to depression. So even though it might be too hot to go for a run, you should find ways to keep active, especially in summer.
Early mornings and late evenings are cooler than other times of the day, so take advantage of these periods. You may also consider fitness equipment to use in your basement.
Being active also helps you manage your stress levels.
In the absence of natural light, a special lamp (known as a lightbox) may be used to simulate sunlight. This method has been used to treat SAD since the 80s. The affected person is exposed to very bright light (10,000 lux) daily for 30-45 minutes during winter.
Because seasonal affective disorder, like anxiety and depression, is caused by disruptions in serotonin activity, it is commonly managed with antidepressant medicines (serotonin reuptake inhibitors).
Commonly used drugs are paroxetine, citalopram, escitalopram, fluoxetine, and sertraline.
Since most people with SAD usually have vitamin D deficiency, taking vitamin D supplements can help reduce their symptoms. However, studies on the effectiveness of using vitamin D supplements have reported mixed results.
Serotonin and dopamine play a vital role in regulating mood. And CBD has been shown to boost the production of dopamine and serotonin through its interaction with the endocannabinoid system.
As a result, cannabidiol has shown potential to help relieve symptoms associated with depression, anxiety, and seasonal affective disorder.
Can CBD help with seasonal affective disorder?
Cannabidiol's antidepressant properties have been the subject of many studies—both animal and human.
The major finding in most of these is that CBD's effectiveness largely depends on the strain, dose, administration time course (chronic vs. acute), and method of administration.
These studies also show that CBD's pharmacological actions result from its interaction with cannabinoid receptors CB1 and CB2, 5-HT1A, and a host of other neurogenesis factors.
In sum, preliminary clinical trials suggest that CBD has antidepressant, antipsychotic, and anxiolytic properties. Its role in serotonin activity is crucial vis-à-vis its ability to help with seasonal affective disorder.
On its part, serotonin affects a wide range of processes, including emotional stability and feelings of happiness and wellbeing.
So, by influencing the production of critical mood-impacting hormones such as serotonin, melatonin, and dopamine, CBD may directly improve SAD symptoms.
CBD oil for seasonal affective disorder
CBD is available in many forms to suit the lifestyle and preferences of every consumer. As mentioned, the effectiveness of CBD depends on several factors, including the method of administration. CBD oils are among the most popular forms of CBD across all lines.
One particular advantage of CBD oils is their bioavailability increases if MCT oil is used as the carrier element. Bioavailability refers to the final amount of a substance that reaches the systemic system after consumption.
The more the final amount, the higher the bioavailability and vice versa. Naturally, you want more CBD to be reaching your circulation for you to enjoy the full extent of its health benefits.
How do you take CBD oil for SAD?
For best results, it is advisable to take CBD oils sublingually (placing drops of the oil under the tongue). This part of the mouth has a rich network of capillaries that will quickly absorb the CBD into the bloodstream.
You can also take CBD oil in capsules. This is a perfect option for people with SAD seeking to maintain a consistent amount of CBD in their system.
However, when ingested, CBD passes through the digestive tract, where some of it may undergo the "first pass" process, thus reducing its bioavailability. It may also take longer (30 minutes) before you start feeling the effects.
Vaping is also a great way to take CBD oil. It has the added advantage of getting the CBD into your bloodstream faster through the lungs. Moreover, vape pens are also easy to use and produce minimal vapor.
Some oil blends may taste bad, and you may want to mask the pungent flavor with something more delicious. You can infuse the CBD oil in a smoothie or coffee or eat it in a salad dressing. These are just the conventional ways.
CBD for SAD
So if you feel sufficiently emboldened to try CBD to manage seasonal affective disorder, we have just what you need!
Our collection of CBD oils, including Premium CBD Drops and Sleep Drops, are made from broad spectrum or full spectrum hemp CBD to help relieve anxiety and sleeplessness in addition to supporting brain function.
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The Fruit Chews contain 10mg of CBD per chew, while the CBD Gummies pack 25mg of CBD per gummy. The more powerful CBD + CBN Gummies have 25mg of CBD and 15mg of CBN to help ease stress, calm your body and mind, and balance your endocannabinoid system.
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